• Theoretical  neurobiologist Mark Changizi, and philosopher Mark Walker say we are obsessed  with achieving ever greater intelligence
  • But they  warn it could lead to anti-social behaviour and psychosis
  • Say that if  people become extremely clever but their moral intelligence is not boosted as  well, they could use their powers for evil

By  Emma Innes

PUBLISHED: 02:07 EST, 12  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 04:10 EST, 12 July 2013

Sci-fi has long been fascinated by the idea  of creating a race of people with superhuman intelligence, but two experts have  now argued that this is far from a good idea.

Theoretical neurobiologist Mark Changizi, and  philosopher Mark Walker, have both spent more time contemplating the issue than  most.

In an interview with io9, the  pair explained the problems. They believe that excessive amounts of intelligence  could have negative consequences for the person, causing maladaptation,  anti-social behaviour, and even psychosis.

Sci-fi has long been fascinated by the idea of creating a race of people with super-human intelligence (such as Mr Spock from Star Trek), but two experts have now argued that this would not prove to be a good thingSci-fi has long been fascinated by the idea of creating  a race of people with super intelligence (such as Mr Spock from Star Trek), but  two experts have now argued that this would not prove to be a good  thing

Their findings come at a time when people are  obsessed with intelligence, IQ, and the pursuit of endless  knowledge.

They also believe that the concept is  difficult as intelligence is hard to define and factors such as morals and  empathy could be overlooked.

Mr Walker explained to io9: ‘Transhumanists,  when they say that intelligence ought to be enhanced, almost never mean some  kind of social intelligence.

‘They rarely talk about other forms of  intelligence, like enhanced empathy, or understanding what it means to promote  another person’s well-being.’

He added: ‘Just because you have intelligence  in the IQ sense doesn’t necessarily mean you have a universal instrument to help  you get everything else you want in your life.’

Mr Changizi explained that the issue is how  we define intelligence – and therefore, what we mean when we say that we would  like to create people with superhuman intelligence.

He believes that people tend to think of  intelligence as something that the human brain is not particularly good at – for  example, being able to play chess, or solve logic problems.

He went on to explain that things people are  naturally good at, such as things that come instinctively, we do not see as part  of our intelligence.

They believe that being extremely clever (like Albert Einstein) could have negative consequences for the person, causing maladaptation, anti-social behaviour, and even psychosisThey believe that being extremely clever (like Albert  Einstein) could have negative consequences for the person, causing  maladaptation, anti-social behaviour, and even psychosis

He told io9 that people are not aware of  their brain doing these things, so do not tend to view them as connected to  intelligence.

Mr Walker agrees that people tend to have too  simplistic a view of intelligence. He says that people who try to turn  intelligence into a narrow category are oversimplifying it.

For example, he notes that there are people  who are really good at solving mathematical problems but who are almost  incapable of stringing a sentence together.

The experts believe intelligence is hard to define and factors such as morals and empathy could be overlooked. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is known for being very intelligent but lacking emotionThe experts believe intelligence is hard to define and  factors such as morals and empathy could be overlooked. Sheldon Cooper from The  Big Bang Theory is known for being very intelligent but lacking emotion

He worries that if people were give  superhuman intelligence, it would be almost impossible to enhance all of the  areas that could constitute intelligence.

He argues that because everyone values  different areas of intelligence, if everyone boosted the area of intelligence  that they consider to be important, it would result in worse  outcomes.

For example, Mr Walker worries that people  might end up amazingly good at something like maths, but totally lacking in  emotional or moral intelligence.

This, he believes, could result in people  using their talents for evil.

As a result, he thinks the only way that it  could work would be to boost intelligence at the same rate as self-reflection  and modesty.

Mr Walker is also concerned that because the  human brain is not designed to be super intelligent, it might respond to  boosting by becoming maladjusted or even psychotic.

The experts believe that there could,  however, be solutions.

Mr Changizi believes that the way to make  people brilliant is to harness the brain’s natural instincts.

He believes that in the future it will be  more important to people to be able to enhance these factors to allow us, for  example, to navigate new places, than to enhance the sort of intelligence that  related to things like maths.

In contrast, Mr Walker believes that the most  valuable thing would be to boost people’s ability to be happy.

He thinks that people who are happy are more  successful in a wide range of areas, such as in their relationships, their work  and their social lives.

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